The Nostalgia of Books

My daughter is eleven this past October, which means we moved into this house eleven years ago. At the time, I carefully unpacked all my books from the old house and arranged them on the shelves in the closet of my new office. Since then, my name appears on the spine of another nineteen books. Ten have been translated to other languages. I’ve contributed stories or essays to at least twenty-five anthologies.

One of the ways an author is compensated is with copies of the books. Every year of the past eleven years I became increasingly inventive about how those books were added to the closet. It’s a genetic gift, the ability to fit more in a space than most other people can. I stack a mean dishwasher, too.

So a few nights ago I emptied the closet. It was a chore I’d been putting off for at least three years. I was looking for a copy of a book I knew had to be there. In the photo to the left, there it is, my last copy of the original edition of The Dawning.

Every book I stacked had a story to tell. There’s the one I wrote the bulk of in about eight days, after the birth of my daughter and the unexpected death of my mother-in-law. There’s the book the publisher accidentally shipped me double copies of. At least twice I’ve woken up in the morning knowing what I wanted to write about, but more often than not, a book is the result of a passion– for romance, for a place, for books. Almost every book I touched I could remember a passage that made me laugh when I wrote it, and most at least one that made me cry.

I don’t have a favorite – it’s impossible to choose. If readers have a favorite, I’m not sure which it is, but I do know that every new book I write I’m hoping to supplant an old favorite with a new one.

The covers have a wild variety to them. Different publishers take a different approach — and my goodness, the Spanish edition covers aren’t for the shy! Each new book has another cover from Bella that I love, but I’ve long since run out of wall space for framing them. I have to be content with browsing my Flickr arrays when I’m feeling nostalgic, because it isn’t often I have them all out at the same time.

2009 is approaching fast, and the digital era is unstoppable. I’m pleased that Bella is slowly digitizing my backlist for eBook format, but I have to say it was great to touch and feel all those books. The smell of the older pages from the traditional offset process, the bright white of the new books from digital printing, the texture of the cover, even the delight of different typefaces — that’s what I love about holding real books.

This week is Thanksgiving here in the United States, a national holiday I’ve always felt was a celebration of food, family and friendship. It’s also a day to be especially thankful for what gifts life has brought. So this is the perfect time to say thank you to one of the greatest gifts of my life. It’s going to sound sappy, but that never stops a romance writer: I’m grateful for my readers, every single one. Thank you for all these years, for all the words and the memories that have let me tell stories and create books.

Copyrighted material.

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